I’ve tried to go wireless with all of my computing needs. You know what I mean – keyboard, mouse, printer.

Printer??

Is there really such a thing? I know they claim it to be true, they might even work the first time you get the thing connected, but after that…good luck!

My first one was HP. It worked for a few days. Then the ‘offline’ message kept coming up. I went through the tutorials, the troubleshooting lessons, etc. Nothing worked. In desperation I called in the big guns – a ‘geek’.

Yes, even though the thing was under warranty, I made the assumption I had done something wrong. Apparently not. $$$ later – still no wireless printing. He – the ‘geek’ – made the executive decision to connect via cable and so it remained until I had a paper feeding issue about two years later.

I searched for the best wireless printer in my price point and Epson was highly recommended. So I sprang for a new one and it arrived all sparkly new and shiny with a different ink cartridge for every variety of color. I hooked it up – not difficult – and it worked marvelously. I even added my laptop and could send items to be printed from the first floor to the printer on the second floor. Yay!!

That was about a month ago.

Today, it went offline. No reason. Two hours of trying to troubleshoot and still no printing could be accomplished. The black ink looked a bit low. I had bought replacement cartridges – Epson as well. Yes, I sprang for the name brand as a large caution notice keeps popping up explaining other brands might not work as well or – horror – harm the printer.

Even though it appeared I might have a small percentage of ink left, I thought maybe that was the problem. I sacrificed the remainder in the old cartridge and connected my brand new one. Then, of course, there’s the alignments to be printed off. The black ink wasn’t showing up well, so I kept printing one after the other, trying all of their helpful tips. (Yes it would copy and print from the commands on the printer itself, just not from the computer.)

I finally cut the power to the whole system, rebooted, and got the printer back online. But then the pages I tried to print had suddenly developed skips and breaks. Why?

Troubleshooter said my head needed cleaning. Really? My mother used to say she’d clean my mouth out with soap if I said a dirty word. And yes, I’ve said a few of those during this process. Is that the same thing?

In this case it would appear they were referring to some sort of process within the printer. Great. More things to do, more copies to make. They are getting better, but not quite right yet. More aligning, more copies.

Nozzle check?

That’s recommended too. Of course it needs copies printed to be sure it is working properly. Once everything appears to be getting clearer and cleaner, I have to print some documents and see if troubles still exist. They recommend cleaning up to four times. Of course, each time needs more printing.

I’ve finally gotten it right. The printer is back online and is spitting out readable copy, and I’m only down half the brand new ink cartridge from all the darned printing and checking – not to mention a ream of paper. No wonder they want me to buy their brand of ink. I’ll likely use half a cartridge every time I reload. Guess I’d better buy the XL for extra long life.

Is it a conspiracy? Must we waste half a cartridge every time we try to replace one? Have you found a wireless printer which actually works – all the time? Or are you as frustrated with technology as I sometimes am?

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.